What causes cracked paw pads?

no cracked paw pad

Many dog owners have experienced their dogs having cracked paw pads. But what causes it?

Your dog’s paw pads are an ingenious design of nature. They are like little leather all weather shoes that are built to last and to go anywhere. But as us dog owners know, these great little walking devices can suffer from wear and tear. They are subjected to a lot, be it a walk on a hot pavement, a sub zero yomp through a snowy field, or a splash in the sea. They are constantly exposed to the elements and that can take its toll on them, drying out the pad and making it lose its flexibility. 

A surefire sign that your dog’s paw pads are taking a hammering is when cracks and splits appear in the paw pad. These cracked paw pads can be quite painful and hamper your dogs enjoyment of their daily walks. This is the moment where a little TLC comes to the rescue. But first, let’s explore in a little more detail the main causes of your dog’s cracked paw pads.

Breed genetics and other health conditions

As mentioned above, your dog’s cracked and split paws are mainly a result of the environmental conditions that they encounter daily. But only very occasionally they can be caused by a hereditary condition known as hyperkeratosis. This results in the skin of the pads becoming thicker and harder than they should be, leaving it more susceptible to drying out and cracking. Although this condition can be managed with ongoing treatment from a vet, it is best to rule it out if your dog’s cracked paw pads seem quite severe. 

The opposite end of the spectrum is the greyhound. These slender dogs tend to have a thinner paw pad than other  breeds, which can make cracks and splits occur more often. 

Wet and cold weather

You may notice that your hands feel dry and sore when exposed to the elements in the depths of winter. A similar thing can happen to your dog’s paws too. The cold wet ground can weaken the paw pad, making painful splits and cracks likely to appear. The transition into a warm centrally heated home after a walk can compound the problem even more.

What you can do to help

If you regularly take long winter walks with your dog in some of the conditions mentioned above, your pet dog may benefit from wearing booties. Although they can be fiddly to put on and many dog’s despise wearing them, then can go a long way to protect your dog’s paws from the cold snow and wet salty pavements. If your dog and the booties don’t get on, then ensure you towel dry your dog’s paws after each walk. Then apply a good quality chemical free paw wax to your dog’s paws. You want to use one that is non toxic to dogs and will be safe for him or her to lick, which they are bound to do. A beeswax based paw wax that contains natural oils will moisturise the paw pad. The beeswax will provide a light barrier to seal in those soothing oils.

Rough and hard surfaces

At some point, our dogs will be walking on some very hard surfaces such as a pavement. As the surface is so firm, the paw pads point of contact with this surface will have to give and mould to that surface area. To do so, the paw pad needs to be flexible enough to do so. If not, over a period of time, painful splits and cracks will develop. 

What you can do to help

  • Once again, booties will protect your dog’s paws from the potentially damaging effects of the pavement. But do not rely on these all the time. Your dog needs to walk on some hard surfaces to keep the pads tough and to naturally wear down their claws. Avoid at all costs walking your dog on very hot payments. Walking on a hot pavement is a major villain at drying out your dog’s pads, but even worse it can cause extremely painful blisters to develop which will see your dog being immobile for days on end. Try to walk your dog on a variety of surfaces, pavement, woodland trails and grass are good candidates. Beach walks are fun and beneficial but be sure to rinse away the sand and salt from the dogs paws after the walk. Ideally, use a decent dog paw wax a couple of times a day or several times a day if your dogs paws are already cracked.

Vigorous activity and your dog

Your dog loves to run and fetch, but if your dog does this on a hard surface, all that stop start activity puts a lot of stress on your dog’s paws. If done on tarmac, this could not only damage the pads but also break a claw.

What you can do to help

  • Try to limit high impact games to softer surfaces. This can result in less chance of splitting open your furry friends paw pad. The regular application of paw wax will help to keep your dogs paws tough but flexible, reducing the risks of wounds developing. Look at the ingredients of the paw wax before you buy it. A good paw wax will contain natural ingredients that will help to heal the wounds and speed up recovery. Ensure your dog is never thirsty throughout the day so always keep her bowl topped up. Well hydrated skin is more supple and heals faster.

Make cracked paw pads a thing of the past

Making your dogs paw care a part of your daily routine will keep sore, cracked paw pads at bay. Our paw and nose wax by Fresh from the Hive has had many glowing reviews from our customers who say it’s just ‘paw-fect’  for their dog. 

organic Dog paw and nose wax tin

We have carefully developed our paw and nose wax to be 100% chemical free and non toxic, ensuring it is safe to be applied to your dogs paws daily. Not only will it moisturise and hydrate your dog’s paws, it will also help to heal paw pads that are already cracked or split.

We use many organic ingredients that have been hand picked. If the ingredient is not beneficial it is not included in our paw and nose wax. 

Other uses for our paw wax

As the title suggests, our paw and nose wax can be applied to your dogs nose if it is dry and sore looking. Many customers have mentioned that after the very first application there were big improvements. Another way of using our paw and nose wax is to apply it to elbow calluses. It will help to hydrate and condition the callus, which is a friction point on your dog’s elbow.

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